A quantitative determinants-of-exposure analysis of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) levels in the construction industry was performed using a database compiled from an extensive literature review. Statistical models were developed to predict work-shift exposure levels by trade. Monte Carlo simulation was used to recreate exposures derived from summarized measurements which were combined with single measurements for analysis. Modeling was performed using Tobit models within a multimodel inference framework, with year, sampling duration, type of environment, project purpose, project type, sampling strategy and use of exposure controls as potential predictors. 1346 RCS measurements were included in the analysis, of which 318 were non-detects and 228 were simulated from summary statistics. The model containing all the variables explained 22% of total variability. Apart from trade, sampling duration, year and strategy were the most influential predictors of RCS levels. The use of exposure controls was associated with an average decrease of 19% in exposure levels compared to none, and increased concentrations were found for industrial, demolition and renovation projects. Predicted geometric means for year 1999 were the highest for drilling rig operators (0.238 mg m−3) and tunnel construction workers (0.224 mg m−3), while the estimated exceedance fraction of the ACGIH TLV by trade ranged from 47% to 91%. The predicted geometric means in this study indicated important overexposure compared to the TLV. However, the low proportion of variability explained by the models suggests that the construction trade is only a moderate predictor of work-shift exposure levels. The impact of the different tasks performed during a work shift should also be assessed to provide better management and control of RCS exposure levels on construction sites.
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